dimanche 10 octobre 2010

Paris, and back on the Dutch wagon.

We went to Paris at the start of September. We stayed in a B&B and spoke French with the hosts. I know I could have spoken more, and there were things I wasn't able to adequately articulate, but I know now that my French is sufficient that if I _needed_ to live entirely in French I could. This is a bit of a mental milestone for me -- accepting that I do in fact Speak French(tm).

Actually being in Paris was quite strange. It was oddly familiar, except of course that I had never been there before: I had only ever read/heard/seen stuff about it in my studies. Seeing locations from French In Action, knowing the names of streets and intersections and restaurants and neighbourhoods and metro lines and flea markets. (I suppose some of this matches with the experience of people who memorized all six seasons of "Sex and the City" and then head to NY.) We also of course hit some locations from Amélie, but that just felt like a touristy thing to do.

I also took advantage of the bookstores and picked up a number of French books: "Le Nom de la Rose" and "La Pendule de Foucault" both by Umberto Eco, "Le Cygne Noir" by Nassim Nicolas Taleb (to go with the copy of "Le Hasard Sauvage" I already had), and the French translation of Hofstadter's "Goedel, Escher, Bach". I've been enjoying Eco's "Dire Presque La Même Chose", but I'm progressing though it slowly mostly because I'm not making the time to read it in the evenings.

It's always nice to feel comfortable in a foreign place. I still feel bad speaking English in the markets in Amsterdam.

The other thing that happened was that I came back from Paris with more energy for speaking Dutch. I've slowly started studying again: I'm working through some audio courses and phrasebooks at the moment, trying to get my 'utility' dutch up and being able to speak what I know. I also picked up a couple more Dutch books so that should help me with looking for interesting content: I'm really feeling fed up with the material in the courses. I think I've lost my patience for "fake Dutch" much faster than with French: I stuck with stupid materials for French for _years_.

Looking forward with French, there's obviously a lot of work I need to do. Working in English in an environment with so many non-native speakers has made me (again) realise that I basically need to redo my entire math/cs undergrad in French. I've tried reading Wikipedia but I just can't get into it on my laptop. Maybe a tablet would be better, but I'm going to try to find a French CS textbook. More grammar work would probably help too -- maybe a CLE workbook or something. I wish I had taken notes on what I was unable to say when talking with the hosts at the B&B, because that would have at least given me a starting point on the vocab I'm missing (even if it's quite situation specific -- math/cs is probably more generally useful for me anyway..)

3 commentaires:

Diana a dit...

I too am learning Dutch - I keep my boat in the Netherlands.

I have had a happier experience with Pimsleur than you did. I liked the fact that I immediately had some usable Dutch - and that my accent is clearly not awful.

I'm finding that my attempts have caused great surprise (local views are extremely unflattering about the Brits capacity to get stuck into other languages) but vast amounts of help. My local shops help me to develop my vocabulary and fine tune my pronounciation.

However, I'll have finished the Pimsleur course within the next few weeks - and then what? Still no Intermediate - let alone Advanced...

Do you have views about what would be the best follow on??

Any help would be much appreciated...



Sam a dit...

Paris, eh? *COUGH COUGH*

Ik ben blij te zien dat je je Nederlands wilt verbeteren. :D

dgryski a dit...

Diana: My issue with Pimsleur was only that for the time invested, generally you end up with more knowledge for the same time invested, albiet perhaps less tip-of-the-tongue speaking ability. I'm currently using Pimsleur and Michel Thomas (although I really despise the students in MT -- vowels aren't that hard people!). If you've finishes the Pimsleur course and are happy with your progress, I'd suggest picking up Assimil. It works great for vocab, and since you'll already have experience speaking from Pimsleur it should be a nice follow-on. Good Luck!